Our Leading Ethical Performance Conference at Harris Manchester College Oxford last week was a fantastic leadership and learning opportunity for all those who took part. Such is the commitment to a topic of this nature that participants and speakers literally traveled from around the UK to be active members of the event. We were pleased that, via Twitter, we were able to get some key messages out to those who were unable to attend the conference and hopefully helped them feel part of the learning.


The commitment of the speakers to a topic of this nature was evident from the moment that they addressed the audience.

Sir Peter Fahy gave a strong input around the key strategic issues and challenges facing the future of the service. Among other key messages, he asked the audience not to just dwell on the past (though be sensitive about it) but to reflect on the current issues with which policing is engaging, ensuring that as a service we are delivered to the highest possible ethical standards.

He was followed by a “Chatham House Rules” session from Sue Akers, CBE, who gave a very personal insight into the challenges facing policing leaders when dealing with high profile sensitive cases. Her personal insights were both enlightening and inspiring and the participants responded positively to the strong ethical performance messages she conveyed.

Mike Bowron, Chief Officer, States of Jersey Police, gave a very engaging personal and practically focused input that bridged the gap between theory and practice. Mike was able to convey a number of positive contributions that leaders can make in order to help deliver a better service to the communities we serve. He spoke of the positive reactions that communities in Jersey have given to his force’s approach centered on “consultation and listening”.

Karyn McCluskey, Director of the Violence Reduction Unit in Police Scotland, gave an impassioned input around the sensitivities required when policing in a time of economic austerity. Her comments around “policing the poor” were thought provoking and approached the concept of policing from a whole new challenging perspective.

Simon Guilfoyle inspired the audience with his “systems thinking” approach. His insight into the dysfunctional impact that target setting can have on the performance of policing certainly helped clarify the debate between measurements and targets. This was a well-received and very practical contribution to the debate around ethical performance delivery.

AC Simon Byrne from the Metropolitan Police provided participants with an insight to the leadership demands that are placed on individuals and teams in managing and leading an organisation of such scale and complexity. He spoke of the challenges of ensuring that executive leadership listened to those whom they lead as well as being creative in leading new ways of delivering ethical performance. Communities were at the center of his presentation.

Dr Richie Adams gave an inspiring input centered on the “values based leadership” approach that is being adopted by Police Scotland. Backed by considerable personal academic research he was once again able to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

The reoccurring theme of bridging the gap between theory and practice was eloquently touched upon by each of our guest speakers, each demonstrating their individual and unique approach to policing. Those who attended the event made a commitment that as a result of the conference they would “pledge” to do something different in their approach to leading ethical performance. These pledges are currently being collated.

Finally, the Policing Matters team would like to thank everyone who traveled from around the country and contributed to the event. We also thank our “tweeters” who helped share the learning.

I would personally like to thank firstly, Harris Manchester College Oxford for hosting us in what only can be described as an idyllic learning environment and secondly, my own team who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the event was a success.

Learning materials will be made available on this site shortly.

Dr Mark Kilgallon

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